Vaccinations are part of preventive health care. Vaccinations can be especially critical for people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, since flu and other illnesses can make routine medications less effective, throw off health goals such as maintaining stable blood sugar, and reduce a person’s ability to care for him- or herself. For America’s growing population of older adults, vaccinations may head off potentially deadly disease complications—a bout of influenza leading to a trip to the hospital for pneumonia, for example.

There are a number of vaccines that are commonly recommended for adults:

  • Flu– Seasonal influenza vaccinations are a must for all adults, since the major strains of flu changes from year to year.
  • Tetanus– Tetanus shots should be given every ten years, or more often for people who rock climb or do other sports that could result in cutting your skin.
  • Pneumonia– Important for those 65 and older, along with people who have underlying heart, lung or immune disorders.
  • Shingles– Shingles is caused by the reactivated chicken pox virus, which lies dormant in the nervous system, and can be very painful. The vaccine is recommended for adults 60 and older.
  • Meningitis– College students and soldiers bunking in dorms and barracks should receive meningitis vaccinations, since the close-quarters living makes them prone to potentially deadly outbreaks.
  • Hepatitis B vaccines are recommended for all sexually active adults, emergency personnel, health care workers and those who work with small children.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause genital warts and cancer including cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal. A three shot series is available for females and males between the ages of 9 and 26 years to protect against diseases.
  • International travelers may need to get shots for yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A and polio, depending on their destination.